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by Michelle Diament, From the AARP Bulletin Print Edition, April 1, 2010
Capri Ramos has never missed a mortgage payment on her Salt Lake City home, but after a lengthy court battle she could lose the house anyway, thanks to a $68 dentist bill.
Ramos, 43, was a young mom when she took her 4-year-old to a dentist for swollen gums more than 15 years ago. Uninsured, she made a partial payment and expected to be billed for the rest. But she never received a subsequent bill and soon forgot about the episode.
Meanwhile, a lingering charge for $67.72 went to collections and was brought before a judge. Ramos says she was not notified. The judge awarded the collections agency hundreds of dollars and ordered the sheriff’s department to sell her house to make up for the debt.
The home sold at auction in 1996 for $1,550, though Ramos had paid $51,000 for it.
It wasn’t until two years later that Ramos learned on a fluke that she had lost the title to the buyer, Jarmaccc Properties LLC. She paid Jarmaccc what was owed to regain the title, but the company has refused to transfer it. She’s been fighting in court to regain the title ever since.
“There’s something immoral about how it was done,” says Ramos of the sale of her home, where she still lives. “They tried to take advantage, and just because I don’t have a lot of money, they thought I wouldn’t fight.”
Calls to Jarmaccc owner Ralph Petty were not returned.
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